Ankarana National Park
Ankarana national park
One of the oldest parks in Madagascar is Ankarana National Park founded in 1956. This park consists of a beautiful sea of sharp limestone rocks with deep gorges, rivers and caves which actually makes this the biggest underground network of Africa. In those rivers live crocodiles, but also many other reptiles and amphibians. With an annual rainfall of almost 2000 mm, the underlying rocks undergo a heavy erosion producing an amazing karst topography; the eroded limestone scenery known as “tsingy”. The pinnacles are surrounded by a large deciduous forest full of other endemic animals and plants. The park is one of the most popular among hikers in specific because it offers many incredible walking trails with unique landscapes and a lot of animals!
Small Tsingy Ankarana
Ankarana National Park is a spectacularly eroded limestone fortress of sharp ridges, patches of dense tropical jungle, deciduous forest, deep caves, canyons and rushing rivers. With an annual rainfall of almost 2000 mm, the underlying rocks undergo a heavy erosion producing an amazing karst topography. The Park is especially a favorite among hikers: it offers incredible trails, unique and terrific landscapes and a lot of animals! After a 15-minute drive from the reception of the park your walk in Ankarana National Park starts. After a relatively short walk through the deciduous forest with regular stops to see occasional lemurs and reptiles, you start to climb slowly. You reach a few peaks of the razor-sharp rocks and get an impressive view of the surroundings. After this you descend on a landscaped staircase to a cave where a beautiful variety of bats lives.
Big Tsingy Ankarana
You can do the ‘small’ and the ‘big’ hike divided over 2 days. When starting your Big Tsingy Ankarana hike you will again start going through the deciduous forest but this time it takes a bit longer (about an hour) until you reach the edge of the forest. Do take in as much as possible during this part of the walk because you can spot many birds, lemurs, reptiles and mongoose. This forest area has an easy flat track but the trail to the suspension bridge is a bit more rough as you hike over a track on the tsingy. After an hour you will reach the edge of the forest and you will see a 'sea' of Tsingy rocks, a breathtaking view. Look out for lemurs jumping across ravines in the tsingy area since this is a preferred habitat area to them, even though it does not look like a comfortable living space at all with the sharp rocks. Via a makeshift path you continue your walk over the razor-sharp rocks and via different walkways you reach a viewpoint. Here you can enjoy a beautiful view and a picnic. Optionally you can also visit a cave in the afternoon where thousands of bats live. There are steep stairs down into the gorge. Make sure you take a flashlight as the caves are very dark.
Between Diego Suarez and Ankarana National Park there is a special gap called the Tsingy Rouge. This is a well-hidden creation of nature. This relatively small area can be reached by a very bad road, about one hour driving from the main road. These Tsingy's are different from the most famous (sharp pointed) Tsingy areas in Madagascar because the ‘Red Tsingy’ are not formed by stone but by clay soil. Years of erosion have formed this beautiful reddish-brown stalactite landscape. These fragile rock formations actually vary in color from vanilla to almost dark red due to the fact that the clay soil of Madagascar is full of minerals and mainly a lot of iron oxide (laterite). These clay formations somewhat change colors throughout the day depending on the light. The sandstone massif has only existed for about 50 years and is the result of deforestation. A unique landscape to see, especially in the bright contrast with the green trees and a clear blue sky. Because erosion continues, it is expected that other sections of the pink sandstone will also be exposed. It's a matter of time. You can freely roam around for about 1 hour to take in the scenery and of course to capture some good shots.